Islamabad: Many stampedes have occurred at flour distribution centres in Pakistan provinces during the month of Ramzan, resulting in deaths of several individuals, including women and children, reported Asian Lite International.

Since the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramzan, at least 23 people have died as a result of stampedes at distribution points for flour across Pakistan.

Additionally, thousands of flour bags have been stolen from trucks and distribution points. A man was killed and four others were left injured during a stampede at a distribution point in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's Charsadda district on March 23.

A similar incident was reported on March 28, in which two women died, and 45 people were injured during a stampede at a free flour distribution in Punjab's Sahiwal district. large crowds have been gathering at distribution centres, ever since the PDM government launched an initiative in March to offer free flour to low-income families during the month of Ramadan.

Initially, the programme focused on addressing the severe impact of record-breaking inflation, which is currently at a 50-year high of over 30 per cent, causing poverty rates to surge in Pakistan.

Allegations have been raised, in media reports, of preferential treatment at flour distribution centres to those with 'connections' of those who have bribed the government officials, as per Asian Lite International.

Pakistan's social media is flooded with images and videos of helpless women, kids, and senior citizens waiting in line for hours while being bullied and mistreated in order to buy a bag or two of flour. In order to win an IMF bailout installment of USD 1.1 billion, which has been overdue since last September, Pakistan's Ministry of Finance has predicted more inflationary pressure as a result of the "second-round effect" of prior policy moves to boost energy and gasoline costs.

A few private business owners and non-profit organisations are also distributing essential food items to those in need. Even still, tragedies like the most recent stampede on March 31--during which at least 12 people, including women and children--died--have not been prevented. This occurred as Zakat was being distributed to the families of workers at a private company in Karachi, reported Asian Lite International.

In the meantime, the government-established wheat flour distribution centres were the source of stampedes, according to a statement from Pakistan's Human Rights Commission (HRCP). The occurrence in Karachi was described by the commission as "particularly alarming."

In its official statement on Twitter on March 31, the HCRP called out to the government to improve the distribution system: "This situation is adding insult to injury of the marginalised people of Pakistan who are braving the economic injustice perpetuated by the elites who dominate the state."

As expected, Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is using such incidents to target the PDM alliance and make political gains in Punjab. They are reportedly indulged in spreading misinformation regarding stampede incidents and questioning the "quality of flour" to create chaos and angst among the public against the ruling government.

Pakistan's economy has been left to languish with unprecedented levels of inflation and no indications that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will provide assistance. Moreover, Pakistan's cries for help have been disregarded even by friendly countries like Saudi Arabia and China. The current Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) coalition government has turned to desperate measures, such as a free or subsidised wheat distribution scheme for the poor because there is no immediate financial assistance in sight and there is a chance of increased political unrest. This might have helped those who were struggling economically and given the PDM coalition some political clout. Unfortunately, the programme ended up being a colossal failure, causing international embarrassment for Pakistan, reported Asian Lite International.

Millions of Pakistanis are currently struggling to afford two complete meals a day due to one of the greatest economic crises in its history. The cost-of-living crisis has driven up the cost of necessities like flour, which has increased by nearly 45 per cent in the last year alone. The recent stampedes paint a picture of how the Pakistani people are in a desperate situation due to rising prices, a depreciating currency, inflation, a current account deficit, and a foreign exchange crisis. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has released its most recent research, which predicts that Pakistan's economic growth will considerably decrease, falling to 0.6 per cent in FY2023 from 6 per cent in FY2022.

Similarly, the World Bank has drastically cut Pakistan's growth prediction for the current year. It is now anticipated to be 0.4 per cent instead of the previously anticipated 2 per cent in October.

In addition, according to the Global Climate Risk Index, Pakistan has struggled due to its ranking as one of the "ten most vulnerable nations" globally during the previous 20 years. Together, these elements provide a bleak picture of Pakistan's current economic predicament, in which the population struggles to meet even the most basic demands, Asian Lite International reported.